Do you carry feelings of regret? Regret can be damaging; it might not appear so on the outside, because we can still be functioning, going to church, and getting things done. But, deep in our souls, regret can be an emotional burden, affecting our ability to soak in joy.
One time, when my sons were still little, we had gone hiking and I noticed that Caleb, my younger son, was dragging his feet. Initially, I just kept telling him to catch up. “C’mon. Let’s keep going. On our walk back, I’ll give you some chocolate.” I rarely gave my kids candy, but on our hikes, I would carry snack-sized candies to motivate them. It wasn’t until we took a water break and I was close to Caleb that I noticed his backpack looked lumpy.
“What do you have in your backpack?” I asked. I discovered his backpack was very heavy.
It turns out this little boy was collecting rocks along the way and putting them in his backpack! No wonder he was so tired!
That’s what regret feels like. You know those hard things that you’ve been through and just tucked away because you figured they didn’t matter? God sees you and He cares about the regrets you carry.
What regrets are you carrying as you go through this day, this week, or this month, as we enter a new fall year?
I once thought regret didn’t harm anybody. I figured, I’m the only one who is affected by whatever it is I regret. But, on my journey to take better care of myself, God led me to learn that there are two kinds of regrets and it inspired me to see and treat my regret differently.
One kind of regret is called the action path. The other is the inaction path. The action path describes the things we regret because of something we did or mistakes we made that resulted in undesirable loss or pain. This is the type of regret that we can grow from — hard lessons learned that we gain wisdom from.
But the other kind of regret comes from inaction — researchers show that this kind of regret leads to depression, which can last for years. The inaction could have resulted from someone who stopped us, outside circumstances, or our own fears and insecurities. Regretting things that we never did, never tried, or were held back from pursuing brings sorrow and affects our emotional health.
Yet, Jesus says that He comes to give us joy and continues to fill us with joy and replenish our joy. In John 15:11, Jesus says that in Him our joy may be made full.
This doesn’t mean God wants us to squash our negative emotions. Rather, God wants us to bring our regrets to Him, so He can redeem them by helping us choose what gives us real joy. When we put feet to our faith, the bumps and mistakes we make along the way are things God will help us grow and recover from.
As I thought about some of the things I regretted not trying, a loving promise from Scripture came to my mind that is empowering me to do new things with God, to redeem regret with joy. I want to share God’s promise to empower you too:
You go before me and you follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Psalm 139:5 (NLT)
God goes before you. He knows the challenges ahead of you and nothing will catch God by surprise. God will catch you if you fall. You have a soft place to land. But notice something equally amazing: God is also behind you and God follows you! Other translations say, “You hem me in.”
Dear friends, God is not so far ahead that you are walking alone. No, in fact, Jesus is walking with you, and He is right behind you!
He is your shield. Jesus whispers, I am with you. I still place my hand of blessing upon you.
It’s never too late to choose joy. God’s faithfulness will follow you. Moment by moment. Step by step.
I hope this truth empowers you as much as it empowers me. That’s what I’ll be doing as I launch new ideas with God this fall. No regrets.
Let’s do new things together with Jesus. We are not alone. Overcome regret by redeeming it with joy. God is with you. You are God’s beloved!
Share one new thing you want to try, explore, or take a first step to choose joy this fall! Let’s encourage each other!
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